AUDIENCE DECLINE GIVES ABC RED FACES
YESTERDAY’S radio ratings confirm identity politics drives even ABC audiences mad. Last year, the ABC dumped former Skyhooks star Red Symons for being a white male.
True, it didn’t give that reason — or any at all — for flicking Symons as breakfast host on Melbourne 774, even though he’d done pretty well in the ratings.
But new managing director Michelle Guthrie had in 2016 declared she wanted more diversity. Not more diversity of thought at the Leftist public broadcaster — heavens, no!
On ideological grounds, Symons was fine. No, she just wanted more diversity of accents and skin colours among the Leftists who’ve hijacked all the ABC’s microphones.
Sure enough, months later the ABC made Muslim activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied host of its
Australia Wide program, only to scrap the show after she’d elsewhere sneered at Anzac Day and claimed Islam was “the most feminist religion”.
Ominously for Symons, a memo from the ABC’s head of radio duly went out, instructing staff to ensure election broadcasts contained a “healthy mix of ethnicities and accents”.
And at the end of last year, Symons was out, replaced by cohosts Sami Shah and Jacinta Parsons. The white bloke with an Australian accent was replaced by a brown one with a thick Pakistani accent and by a woman.
Shah had the Leftist views obligatory at the ABC. He hated Donald Trump, abused Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and tweeted: “Make America Go Away.” Culturally, he fitted in. But professionally, he and Parsons fell short.
They have little chemistry and no great radio skills. Shah’s accent would have been distancing for many Australian listeners.
Too harsh? Check yesterday’s ratings, the first of the year: Shah and Parsons lost nearly a quarter of Symon’s audience, plummeting 2.9 points to 10.1 per cent of audience share. Of course, it takes time for an act to get into gear and for an audience to adjust. Maybe Shah and Parsons will yet lift.
But one thing is clear: in getting them to replace Symons, the ABC did not do their audience a favour and did not even intend to. It seems to have put race, gender and ethnicity above the main criteria for picking a radio host — their ability to please an audience.
But how sadly common that now is in these tribal times — judging people not as individuals but as representatives of identity groups.